View photos from the event on OHR's Facebook page!
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray administered the oath of office to 13 newly appointed members of the District’s Commission on Human Rights during a ceremony at the John A. Wilson Building today. The commission adjudicates private-sector discrimination complaints brought under the provisions of the DC Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on 19 protected traits in the areas of employment, housing, education and public accommodations.
“The District of Columbia is at the forefront of working to end discrimination and ensure its residents and visitors can enjoy all that DC offers,” said Mayor Gray. “The commissioners I swear in today now join us in these efforts by adjudicating allegations of discrimination and by supporting the Office of Human Rights (OHR) in its work to prevent discrimination in the District.”
Commissioners are ultimately responsible for determining whether a discrimination complaint has merit. If the commission finds discrimination occurred, it may prescribe monetary damages, a civil penalty or other appropriate remedies afforded by one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the country.
“The DC Human Rights Act created the Commission on Human Rights to distribute justice in an impartial and efficient manner, and it is living up to that promise,” said Gustavo Velasquez, Director of OHR. “As the Office of Human Rights moves forward in finding innovative ways to address and prevent discrimination, these commissioners will play the crucial role of enforcing our existing non-discrimination laws.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Commission held its first bimonthly meeting with the new commissioners. They were nominated by Mayor Gray on April 26 and confirmed by the DC Council on June 5. Each commissioner is appointed to a three-year term and serves without compensation. The 13 commissioners are: Nkechi Taifa (Chairperson), Motoko Aizawa, Javier Araujo, Alexandra Beninda, Earline Budd, Rahim Jenkins, Mathew McCollough, Edwin Powell, Denise Reed, J.D. Robinson, Gabriel Rojo, David Scruggs and Michael Ward.